Now that President Obama and the Democrats have achieved the
monumental task of signing into law health care reform — a goal that eluded
many of Obama’s predecessors – it should surprise no one that
Republican lawmakers have chosen to behave like children.
one on Tuesday, GOP leaders stomped their feet and held their collective breathes, vowing to “repeal the bill.” Arizona Sen. John McCain went so
far as to proclaim an end to bipartisanship in Washington, something that hasn’t been seen in those parts since the last sighting of Big Foot.
A certain amount of political theater should be expected in times like these.
worries me more are the 14 states that quickly filed lawsuits alleging
that the new law is unconstitutional because it requires every American to buy health
I fear they may have a case.
one may think of health care reform, no one should deny that the law
passed by Democrats last week gives sweeping new power to the federal government.
For the first time in U.S. history, government will dictate to you and me a consumer product we must buy.
reform advocates argue that this is no different than state laws requiring drivers to carry auto insurance. No so. For starters, not every American is required to buy auto coverage. Any person who chooses to forgo the privilege of driving on taxpayer-funded roads may legally go without. Extreme though that is, it’s called an opt-out provision.
Furthermore, state laws require only that drivers carry liability coverage, which protects innocent third parties. Comprehensive coverage — the equivalent of health insurance — is left to the individual.
The nation’s new health care law carries no protection for individual rights. No American is allowed to opt out, not for any reason and under no circumstance. Those who ignore the requirement will be tracked and fined.
Clearly the health insurance mandate was well-intended, designed to prevent freeloaders from showing up at
hospitals demanding emergency treatment. Without the mandatory nature of the law,
the entire system falls apart.
Still, it should worry us all when personal liberties are put at risk.
the interest of health care reform, should government also require
every man, woman and child to join a gym or purchase exercise
equipment? Such a law certainly would go far in addressing our
collective need to contain medical costs.
If government believes,
as I do, that every American should be covered by health insurance,
then government must provide that service — just as government
provides police, fire and military protection.
And therein lies the rub.
mandatory insurance requirement was never a good idea. It was a
political compromise on the one sticky issue that can legally guarantee
universal coverage for every American: a single-payer, government-run
Now, as Obama and the Democrats rightfully celebrate their
monumental accomplishment, those of us who cheer health care reform must
wait for the federal courts to determine whether the compromise they crafted will
pass the constitutional smell test.
Editor’s Note: The photos used in this blog were taken by Pete Souza, the official White House photographer. The one above shows President Obama embracing Secretary of Health and Human Services
Kathleen Sebelius, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after signing
the health insurance reform bill in the East Room of the White House,
March 23, 2010.